Different herbicide-application strategies may serve as part of an integrated weed management (IWM) system. In 1987 and 1988, ten field trials were initiated in the south-central part of Sweden, with the objective of studying the long-term effects of herbicide-application strategies on the development of weed populations and productivity of spring-sown cereals. Each year until 1997, herbicides were applied at 25, 50, 75, or 100% of the full recommended dose. Treatments included herbicide exclusion every second year and herbicide application at 25 or 50% of a full dose during two out of three years, with a full dose applied in the third year. An untreated control was included. In 1998, weed densities in 25, 50, 75, and 100% of a full dose were reduced 43, 58, 64, and 67% compared with the control. At seven sites, the exclusion of herbicides every second year resulted in 43 to 178% higher weed densities than in 50% of a full dose, although the same amount of herbicide was applied when summarized over 2 yr. At four sites, herbicide application each year at 50, 75, or 100% of a full dose increased the density of difficult-to-control species by 24% compared with the untreated control. Averaged over sites, the untreated control contained 30% more weed species than herbicide application at 75 or 100% of a full dose. At three sites in 1996, the full dose resulted in 520 kg ha–1 (pooled over sites) higher barley yields than in the control. Neither in 1996 nor in 1997, was there any difference in crop yield between herbicide application at 25 and 100% of a full dose. This study demonstrates the potential of reducing the input of agrochemicals for weed control by using herbicides at reduced rates in competitive crops.
Nomenclature: Spring barley, Hordeum distichon L.